Islamic Polls & Protests Speak Volumes
By Tom Olago
The world was quick to rejoice over results of a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center (PRC) that suggest certain nations with predominantly Muslim populations hold views of ISIS that are “overwhelmingly negative”.
However, the poll results do not seem consistent with other publicly acknowledged realities and trends in connection to the acceptance of ISIS across Muslim-dominated territories worldwide.
The 11 countries covered in the poll were: Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malaysia, Senegal, Israel, Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan.
Among the key findings:
• In no country surveyed did more than 15% of the population show favorable attitudes toward Islamic State. And in those countries with mixed religious and ethnic populations, negative views of ISIS cut across these lines.
• In Lebanon, a victim of one of the most recent attacks, almost every person surveyed who gave an opinion had an unfavorable view of ISIS, including 99% with a very unfavorable opinion. Distaste toward ISIS was shared by Lebanese Sunni Muslims (98% unfavorable) and 100% of Shia Muslims and Lebanese Christians.
• Israelis (97%) and Jordanians (94%) were also strongly opposed to ISIS as of spring 2015, including 91% of Israeli Arabs. And 84% in the Palestinian territories had a negative view of ISIS, both in the Gaza Strip (92%) and the West Bank (79%).
• In Nigeria (also home to the ISIS sister-in-terror group Boko Haram), there was somewhat more support for ISIS (14% favorable) compared with other countries, but attitudes differed sharply by religious affiliation. An overwhelming number of Nigerian Christians (71%) had an unfavorable view of ISIS, as did 61% of Nigerian Muslims. However, 20% of Nigerian Muslims had a favorable view of ISIS when the poll was conducted in the spring of this year.
• Only 28% in Pakistan had an unfavorable view of ISIS, and a majority of Pakistanis (62%) had no opinion on the extremist group.
These partly counterintuitive results are not without controversy or challenge, and have naturally raised further probing questions in relation to the wider context of the poll and the completeness of its coverage.
Taken at face value, the inevitable conclusion of the poll would be that ISIS is not supported by, or representative of, the views and inclinations of the vast majority of the Muslims surveyed.
However, the poll results do not seem consistent with other publicly acknowledged realities and trends in connection to the acceptance (or otherwise) of ISIS across Muslim-dominated territories worldwide.
Examples of disparate areas include:
1. Other opinion polls covering similar demographics: The religionofpeace.com site reported on a 2009 poll that 83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans, whereas only 14% oppose. Amazingly, American politicians think that if we give the Palestinians a state this will change. (www.worldpublicopinion.org)
ISIS would fit the group description at least as much as Al Qaeda. In contrast, the Pew poll reported that 84% in the Palestinian territories had a negative view of ISIS, both in the Gaza Strip (92%) and the West Bank (79%).
Yet there is seemingly no indication of a significant change in Palestinian demographic, attitude or anything else that would have influenced a major shift in results in the several years between these two polls. Perhaps with the benefit of a ‘why’ response from the Palestinians, there would have been more clarity over such disparities.
Similarly with Indonesia, the Pew 79% unfavorable rating is in sharp contrast to the World Opinion poll that rated Indonesia at 45% unfavorable .
2. The omission of other major Arab nations and territories. Certainly the inclusion of more Muslim nations would have provided a more balanced and accurate result. Breitbart.com in May of 2015 reported survey results conducted by AlJazeera.net (the website for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel), in which respondents overwhelmingly supported the Islamic State terrorist group. 81% voted “YES” on whether they approved of ISIS’s conquests in the region. Only 19% of respondents voted “NO” to supporting ISIS.
Al Jazeera’s Arabic television audience is largely made up of Sunni Muslims living in the Arab world. Its biggest viewership numbers come from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with a large amount of satellite television viewers in the United States, according to research estimates. The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, a much greater volume than covered by the Pew survey.
The omission of nations such as Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia would tend to skew the data. Intentional or not, the exclusion of many key Arab territories lowered the credibility of results that should have depicted a broader representation of the diverse Muslim community globally.
3. The actions of the majority of supposedly non-radical Muslims. There’s an old saying that actions speak louder than words. The high ‘unfavorable to ISIS’ ratings contradict the general behavior that has been displayed by Muslims considered moderate. There are strong indications that those who oppose ISIS still support Sharia and other Islamic fundamentals that are contrary to Western thought, as evidenced by other polls and some publicly displayed incidents.
• WND.com reported that roughly 17,000 Turkish soccer fans in Istanbul turned a moment of silence for Paris terror attack victims into a cacophony of boos and “Allahu Akbar!” chants. Other accounts state there were also reports of celebrations for the attacks in Gaziantep, South Central Turkey where cars were hooting, ISIS flags being waved and gunshots fired into the air.
• The gatewaypundit.com reported that a small group of 30 French Muslims from Bangladesh joined mourners in the Place de la Republique in Paris to protest the bloody ISIS attacks. Yet, approximately 10-15% of Paris is Muslim or at least 224,000 people. Where are the rest of the Muslim protestors of extremism?
In contrast a report by jihadwatch.com in January that stated 800,000 Muslims came out in Chechnya to protest cartoon drawings of the prophet Muhammad. This incident also triggered protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, some of which turned deadly. In Pakistan, 10,000 Muslims came out to protest. The stark contrast in these protest numbers should tell us about the real attitudes of the average person on the street.
• Israel National News.com has reported a poll that shows one in five British Muslims sympathizes with British citizens who flee the UK to join Islamic State (ISIS), and that number rises to one in four among British Muslims ages 18-34. Although 51% believe that it is the Muslim community’s responsibility to condemn attacks, 38% of respondents agreed that Muslims “should not have to condemn” terror attacks carried out by ISIS. It isn’t clear why about half of the community does not find it appropriate to disassociate from extremist and terrorist elements – unless of course they have their tacit support.
The “good news” that Muslims oppose ISIS seems hardly seems positive when other fundamentalist groups like Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran also oppose ISIS.
In other words, many Muslims may oppose ISIS because it’s not their particular brand of Islam, but many are still just as radical and would like to see an Islamic Caliphate rule the world, or simply see Sharia rule the land.
The Palestinians who supposedly oppose ISIS are willing to terrorize Jews every day in Israel. A new poll released on Dec 14 revealed that two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs support the ongoing wave of terror attacks against Israelis, with the same percentage backing a larger “armed uprising” with more shooting attacks. A full 67% back the use of knives, while 66% of those asked said an armed Intifada with guns would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.”
One only needs to look at Saudi Arabia to see the culture of Sharia where women cannot drive and a woman’s male “guardian”, usually a father or brother can stop her traveling overseas, marrying, working, studying or having some forms of elective surgery. This is the same country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS and puts people in jail for “liking” the wrong post on Facebook.
Yet amazingly a recent poll put out by The Center for Security Policy found that 51% of American Muslims agreed that “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Sharia”, Twenty-nine percent agree that “violence against those who insult Mohammad is acceptable”, and 25 percent agree that “violence against America can be justified as part of global jihad”.
Franklin Graham, who heads the Samaritan’s Purse organization as well as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, commented on the poll results calling them “frightening”. “Think about it – that’s 144,000 Muslims (based on 1.8 million Muslim adults in the United States) who openly say without hesitation that violence in the name of Islam is justified! “That’s not ‘peaceful’ and that’s not a small number – it’s about the size of the entire population of Syracuse, New York!”